Some of these have already been discussed in comments, but are too good to pass up…
In quite a surreal moment, Barney Frank asked George Will his position on marijuana and if it should be legalized.
Will admitted that he was a supporter of the internet gambling legalization bill Frank has fought for in Congress, but admitted that regarding marijuana, he would need to learn more about its effects on the human body and how government would regulate it. Frank responded to the notion of marijuana being a gateway drug by saying â€œanything is a gateway to anything.â€ Will argued his position was a â€œquest for information,â€ and Frank asked how long it would take because marijuana has been around for a long time already.
Frank [interjected] to say that if Ryan and Will were arguing that big government is wrong, they should be intellectually consistent by not taking the position that government should prohibit people from doing what they wish to their bodies or telling people who they can marry or not.
I’m going to miss him in Congress.
There’s a really badly headlined article at the Washington Post (as noted by Malcolm) Latin American leaders fault U.S. drug users (the web page title is a bit better: “Latin American leaders assail U.S. drug ‘market’)
But the article points out some important things.
With transit countries facing some of the highest homicide rates in the world, so great is the frustration that the leaders are demanding that the United States and Europe consider steps toward legalization if they do not curb their appetite for drugs.
At a regional summit this month in Mexico, attended by the leaders of 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries, officials declared that â€œthe authorities in consumer countries should explore all possible alternatives to eliminate exorbitant profits of criminals, including regulatory or market options.â€
â€œMarket optionsâ€ is diplomatic code for decriminalization.
The complaints are not exactly new but are remarkable for being nearly unanimous. The critique comes from sitting presidents left to right, from persistent U.S. antagonists such as President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and from close U.S. allies such as President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, which has received almost $9 billion in aid to fight the cartels.
Naturally, the usual U.S. government officials say not to worry, we’re winning the war on drugs.
Nice piece by Bill Varble: Legalize pot: It’ll dry up drug cartels’ market, save forests
Of course, there is a sure-fire way to end the reach of drug gangs into Oregon’s forests: End pot prohibition. Just declare defeat in the pot theater of the War on Drugs and move on.
This has been clear to a growing number people for a long time, but now it’s truly an idea whose time has come.
Neal Pierce in the Seattle Times: President Obama’s puzzling silence on marijuana policy
Obama’s Drug Policy Office claims the drug war is over, replaced by a focus on shrinking demand, “innovative, compassionate and evidence-based drug policies.” But Obama has not once singled out marijuana â€” a substance arguably far less harmful to the human body than alcohol â€” for special consideration. Nor has he spoken to the harm to youth caused by 800,000 yearly arrests. Or moved to stem the billions of dollars a year spent on marijuana-related arrests.
This is clearly not the “change” Obama’s enthusiastic supporters of 2008 expected. And it’s deeply ironic. Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance notes that if local police departments had been enforcing marijuana laws as harshly in the early 1980s as many do today, “there’s a good chance a young Columbia student named Barack Obama could have been picked up â€” and not be in the White House today.”
Kevin Sabet continues to embarrass himself. In a letter to the New York Times, he complains about advocates attempting to bypass the government’s drug approval processes and using referenda for marijuana. He then agrees that the federal government is partially at fault:
The federal government could certainly speed up research into marijuanaâ€™s components by giving incentives to scientists who study the drug and loosening marijuanaâ€™s strict research requirements.
So who should we blame for that? We keep reading and at the end of the letter we see: “The writer was an adviser on drug policy in the Obama, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.”
So he was the federal government. Ah, I guess his message is that we should be patient because now that he’s left, the government will become competent.
Shocking headline, but true, as Congress votes to restore the ban on funding for needle exchange programs.
Congress’s action this week means misery and death for large numbers of people. As the eight federal reviews of the research on this issue demonstrate, needle exchange programs reduce the spread of HIV without increasing the use of drugs. According to the Harm Reduction Coalition, needle sharing by injection drug users accounts for 8,000 new cases of HIV and 15,000 new cases of Hepatitis C each year. Of course the diseases spread from them to other people on occasion, including people who have no involvement in illegal drug use. As HRC points out, New York City has seen a 75% reduction in new HIV cases as a result of instituting such programs, according to a 2005 study.
Must read: Clean Needles Saved My Life. Now Congress Wants to Ban Funding for Needle Exchange by Maia Szalavitz